Report shows more student and public money goes to athletics at USU than other public universities

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LOGAN — A report issued Thursday is very timely when it comes to taxpayer money, spending and appropriations by the State of Utah towards subsidy of NCAA-sanctioned sports, specifically when it comes to Utah’s degree-granting public colleges and universities with athletics departments.

This figure demonstrates the total monetary amounts of subsidy by each institution. Utah State University leads in subsidy amounts, followed by Utah Valley University and University of Utah with subsidy amounts of nearly $15 million and nearly $13 million respectively.

State Auditor John Dougall was a guest on KVNU’s For the People program on Thursday. He said it’s quite a chunk of change that goes to athletics at Utah State University.

“When we talk about college sports, this is one of those things that people can get really passionate about and some folks don’t care who pays or how much they pay, they want their sports. But one of the key things we do in the auditor’s office is to try and shine a light to help folks understand where the money goes so they can better weigh in of whether they think that’s good policy,” explained Dougall.

“And so talking about Cache Valley…one of the key things…first of all, the state, the overall system of higher education subsidizes NCAA sports to the tune of $87 million a year.”

He said they have tracked subsidies over the last 9 years and USU student costs have increased sharply when it comes to funding athletics.

“Nine years ago, it was a little over $600 per-student per-year subsidy of sports. Now it’s over a thousand dollars, almost $1100 per student, per full-time equivalent student at USU. And so, we look at that and identify that that is a burden that’s being placed on students either directly in their fees or indirectly through money that could’ve gone to offset different costs in higher ed that went to athletics.”

Dougall said, by comparison, the University of Utah’s subsidy has actually declined over time and it’s down to 13 percent.

From the State Auditor’s office, this graph illustrates the total amounts subsidized by each institution in the last nine fiscal years. Most institutions saw a gradual increase in total subsidy amounts particularly over the last four years.

He said Utah State also wants to be in the big leagues of sports but they don’t quite have the revenues that the U has. So he said, as a result, more money goes into propping up programs to be able to compete at the level they want.

Dougall said this is not a unique situation in Utah but it is seen at colleges throughout the country. You can see the report here: 2021 NCAA Athletics Subsidization Analysis

AUDIO: Utah State Auditor John Dougall talks to Jason Williams on KVNU’s For the People

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1 Comment

  • TrueAggie February 26, 2021 at 9:07 pm Reply

    Sports are a drain on the Universities. I donated to USU in the past, but have responded to requests since then that I’ll donate when they stop wasting so much on sports.

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